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Starting strong

Andy McDonald is off to a flying start for the Blues this season, tallying six assists in three games. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Andy McDonald is off to a flying start for the Blues this season, tallying six assists in three games. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The new NHL season has only just started and already the jockeying in fantasy leagues has begun. Let’s get to some letters!

I'm in a one-year rotisserie league and I feel my right wing position needs bolstering. My premier right winger is Brad Boyes followed by Milan Hejduk and Dan Cleary. I'm contemplating dropping Cleary for the available Phil Kessel, Martin Erat or Bobby Ryan. Should I pull the trigger, wait it out or seek a trade?
Wyatt, Toronto


I think Martin Erat is an upgrade to Cleary in most leagues, but it would depend on how many categories you are using. While Erat is certainly no iron man, Cleary has proven to be quite fragile and I would just feel safer with Erat on my team. Once that move is made, you can always seek to further upgrade things via trade.

Somehow Andy McDonald didn't get picked up in our 12-team draft this year. I took Rod Brind’Amour in the 19th round of 20. After seeing McDonald returning to form at the end of last year and with his pre-season stats, especially playing between Boyes and Stempniak, I was trying to figure if I should pick him up and drop Brind’Amour. Are Rod's best days done with his wonky knee? Thanks!
Steve, Buffalo


I’m inclined to agree with this move, given McDonald’s explosive start carrying over from the pre-season. I don’t think Brind’Amour is done by any stretch, but I’m sold on McDonald topping Brindy in total points come April.

I’m in an H2H pool with only goals, assists and power play points. It's also a salary cap pool. I have a situation with my forwards. I’m debating whether or not to drop a current forward to get Alexander Semin. My eight forwards are: Mueller (C), Marleau (C), Kovalchuk (LW), Morrow (LW), Doan (RW), Cheechoo (RW), Selanne (RW), and Langkow (C). Unfortunately my defensemen aren’t worth enough to drop for cap space and pick up Semin since his cap hit is 4.6.
Lawren, Kelowna, B.C.


Lawren, I would drop Langkow and claim Semin. Centers are far easier to replace than wingers, so make the move.

(Note to readers: H2H means “head-to-head,” meaning two teams in the league square off for a week or two and start a certain amount of players. Generally speaking, the winner of the most categories wins the “game.” The teams then play new opponents for the next time frame.)

I drafted Sergei Zubov and Sergei Gonchar before their injury announcements. Are there any likely-to-be-undrafted defensemen that are suitable pickups early on?
Jordan, Philadelphia


Dan Girardi in New York is off to a hot start and has the potential to put up decent blueliner numbers for the Rangers. I’m a little surprised by Filip Kuba in Ottawa. He gets streaky, but the Sens are giving him tons of ice time so perhaps he’ll have a big year. Edmonton’s Denis Grebeshkov is another candidate – he may have been overlooked due to the return of Sheldon Souray (from injury last year) and the arrival of Lubomir Visnovsky, but he’s still getting plenty of ice time.

Who would you take in a division of Martin Havlat, Teemu Selanne, Patrice Bergeron, Patrick Marleau, and Jiri Hudler? Goal, assist and shootout goal are all one point.
Sam, Owen Sound, Ont.


Despite being pointless in two games, Selanne is still the man to grab in this group.

Hey Dobber, I wanted to ask you a question about a couple of defensemen. What are your thoughts on Mathieu Schneider, Dustin Byfuglien and Drew Doughty? Schneider is getting pretty old and he's going to be on a terrible Atlanta team. Do you think 40 points is within his realm? Will Byfuglien have a better season than he did last year? Will Doughty be as good as everyone says he is? Will he make that much of an impact in L.A.? What do you think his point projection will be this year?
Blake, Toronto


While I do think Schneider has another 40-point year in him, Byfuglien will be good for 45 to 55 points and he would be your best bet. Plus, in many leagues he also qualifies as a winger. As for Doughty, he is being used on the top power play and that will only increase now that Jack Johnson is injured. In Saturday’s FPL I gave some rookie predictions, including Doughty, for this season.

Hey Dobber, a few quickies for you: Alexander Frolov or Patrick O'Sullivan? Andy McDonald or Shawn Horcoff? How do you think Paul Stastny and Peter Mueller will do this season point-wise?
Joseph, Brampton, Ont.


I would take O’Sullivan over Frolov for sure, especially in keeper leagues. Before McDonald’s hot start I would have been all over Horcoff here, but now I’m not so sure. As for projecting, I figure Mueller will flirt with 70 this season. Stastny is a tough one – generally when a player comes off a season in which he gets injured and he is too young to have established a track record of being healthy, I project that he will play no more than 75 games. It’s conservative, but not too much. Given that, I say 80 for Stastny.

Hey Dobber, You're advice has been gold so far, so hopefully you can help me out of this jam. I'm in a one-year league in which the auto-select program messed up and selected Marcel Hossa instead of Marian 21st overall. It's left me with a bit of a hole after my top scorer (Ovechkin). I have two strong goalies and a decent defense. However, my wingers and centers aren't the greatest – Sakic, Stastny and Kopitar at center; Boyes, Kariya, Wolski, Holmstrom and Kessel are my wings after Ovechkin. I feel like I have a hole in secondary scoring. Stamkos is available. Should I seek a trade? Drop Burnaby Joe for Stamkos?
Wyatt, Oakville, Ont.


Marcel instead of Marian? Ouch. Your centers are actually decent and dropping Sakic for Stamkos is not the answer; not this year. Stamkos has already been held to fewer than nine minutes of ice time twice. In a few weeks, start shopping Tomas Holmstrom, because he often gets injured mid-season after getting off to a hot start.

Can you please explain why you think Paul Stastny will never get 100 points? He probably would have if he stayed healthy last year. Since he is only 22, it would be hard to believe he won't get 100 points at least once in his career.
Jeff, Welland, Ont.


Ah, the fallout from last week’s mailbag. Let me preface my response by stating that you won’t find a bigger backer of Paul Stastny in fantasy hockey than myself. I drafted him in my keeper league before he played a game in the NHL and I pushed my readers to do the same. Usually, when you draft a player from out of left field like that and he rewards you, you tend to become somewhat biased in favor of said player for years to come. So if anything, I feel that I’m generous in my assessment of Stastny. 

That being said, it’s time to be realistic. How many players reach 100 points in a given year? If you knew that four or five players per season reach that mark and two or three of those are going to be there perennially, can you put Paul Stastny on there? In my rankings, I count 26 players in the league with 100-point upside and 55 players with an upside of 90 points or higher. I count Stastny in the latter group, but not the former. If he were to have a season of 93 or 94 points, I would have to adjust my opinion of him, but not today.

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Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Mailbag will appear on the last Wednesday of every month throughout the playoffs and off-season. The weekly edition will begin again in September. To send the Dobber your question, click HERE.

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